Miles Davis: Kind of Blue CD Review (1997 Reissue)

Discussion in 'Musical Goodness' started by admin, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (1959) was such a ground-breaking recording that books have been written about it. The original LP sold millions (no small feat for a jazz recording), simultaneously launching a musical genre (cool jazz) and elevating Miles Davis to legendary status—all from two recording sessions over two days in March and April of 1959. Nearly every track is considered a jazz classic that may be heard in any number of live jazz venues on any given night; their simplicity belies their genius. This review focuses on the 1997 CD reissue of this classic, but also discusses the various other formats and mixes.
    [​IMG]

    Discuss "Miles Davis: Kind of Blue CD Review (1997 Reissue)" here. Read the article.
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  2. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

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    My girlfriend gave me a 180g vinyl of Kind of Blue for Christmas last year. Great gift!

    It sounds great. I love this album, one of my all-time favs.

    The only thing is it seems so odd that this was ground-breaking (being kind of young myself). I have to keep reminding myself that this was new Jazz territory back then!
  3. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

    gene
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    Agreed. I have the 180G vinyl and it's like butter! Gotta be in the mood for it though as I find the first side much more engaging than the second.
    gene,
  4. Adam Audioholic Jedi

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    I'm listening to it on YouTube right now. Deciding if I'm going to order it from Amazon. :) At only $7, it would be tough to go wrong...

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2014
    Adam,
  5. afterlife2 Audioholic Spartan

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    I have it. It's good but not great as Coltrane Blue Train IMHO.
  6. Stanton Audioholics Contributing Writer

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    Just make sure you get the right one, and based on the run time of your link/stream (~55 minutes), it looks like you have.
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  7. Adam Audioholic Jedi

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    Thanks. On Amazon, I specifically looked for the 1997 release. It was reissued at a later date apparently, but still carries the 1997 date on it. I'm not sure it's my thing, so I haven't ordered it, yet.
    Adam,
  8. afterlife2 Audioholic Spartan

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    ^^Look for Blue Train. I bet you will like it. [​IMG]
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  9. Pat D Audioholic

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    Well, thank goodness, I have the correct version! :cool:

    Long ago, I got an LP reissue, Columbian WPC-8163, which sounds good as I recall. I haven't played it for quite a while. I got a Columbia CD reissue, but soon found it was inferior, lacking the nice, airy sound of the LP. I got rid of it after I got a 1997 CD reissue, 6 tracks, Columbia/Legacy DK 64935, with a sticker telling me that it is The Definitive Version. Elsewhere, it mentions Sony Super Bit Mapping (SBM), and a 1997 copyright by Sony Corporation. As I recall, there have been some who have preferred some expensive reissue or other, but this one sounds fine.

    Anyway, I got it out and am now listening to it over my Sennheiser HD 598 headphones from my laptop, with a HeadRoom Total Bithead headphone amp/DAC powered from the USB output. It still sounds great. Like Gene, I listen to this when I am in the mood.
  10. jcl Senior Audioholic

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    I'll have to check this version out. I have the older Columbia Jazz masterpieces release of this, I think from the Columbia house record club. I got Sketches of Spain at the same time and love that as well.
    jcl,
  11. GO-NAD! Audioholic Ninja

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    Just checked my version and it's the '97, 6-track issue. It's the only one I've ever had, so I never knew there were problems with the others. I'm glad I have the "correct" one.:) I'm listening to it right now; haven't heard it in a while. Great stuff.
  12. mogorf Audiophyte

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    Hi Stanton, me thinks even you don't remember "open-real tape" coz if you would, you would have spelled it correctly as "open-reel tape". :)
  13. defmoot Audioholic

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    From the linked article:


    This is not quite accurate, and omits an important contribution.

    A little history: The first release of Kind of Blue on compact disc was the 1986 Columbia Jazz Masterpieces (CK 40579) reissue. According to Columbia reissue producer Amy Herot, the March 2, 1959 original session tapes that comprised side-one could not be found. “A decision was made to use later generation tapes to allow the album to be offered on the new configuration.” This version made no attempt to correct the tape speed issue, which I'm not sure was even known at the time. In 1992, while preparing for a new Legacy Recordings MasterSound release, Sony's senior mastering engineer Mark Wilder discovered that the “prime” three-channel tape machine originally used for the recording was running slightly slow during the March 2, 1959 session (tracks 1-3). The side-two tracks (tracks 4-5) were spot on, however, indicating that the deck must have received some maintenance or calibration before the April 22, 1959 session. What to do? Luckily, the tapes from a three-channel “safety” backup deck recorded simultaneously at both sessions had been sent to the Columbia vault in 1959 and remained there, untouched, until rediscovered in early 1992. These safety backup tapes are the origin of every release of Kind of Blue since then. See this Stereophile article for more history and info.

    The first CD to be remixed and remastered with the safety tapes was the Limited Edition, 1992 Sony/Columbia MasterSound SBM Gold CD (CK52861), engineered by Mark Wilder. It is the first to correct for the tape speed problem, as well as a typographic error for the side-two tracks on the jacket (and label?) of previous LPs, including the original 1959 stereo release. Note that this version does not contain the alternative take of “Flamenco Sketches.” My understanding is that Wilder did a three-track direct-to-digital transfer for this reissue.

    The 1997 Columbia Legacy SBM Remaster (CK 64935) referenced in the Audioholics article has a different lineage. For that release, Wilder transferred the original three-track safety tape to a two-track analog tape mix. This two-track mix has been used for every stereo CD release since then, including the 50[SUP]th[/SUP]anniversary release. It was also used for the SACD. See the Stereophile article.


    Disclaimer aside, and in good faith, I take exception to this claim.

    I own both the 1992 (CK 52861) and 1997 (CK 64935) remasters, as well as the 1977 LP reissue (PC 8163). I've listened to each track from the '92 and '97 side-by-side many times and think that even though the overall character of these two remasters is very different, the '92 has its merits and stands up to the later disc. To my ears the '97 is brighter and more forward, with a bit more air perhaps, but at the expense of increased tape hiss and sharpness. It plays slightly louder as well. In comparison, the sound of the '92 is warmer, rounder, and a little more inviting, with no loss of detail. I think any claim that it may be inferior to the '97 remaster is misplaced. It's just different. If there are glaring problems with it, I can't hear them.

    They were both remastered by the same highly competent engineer, though. So, why the difference?

    It's impossible to predict what factors drive any commercial endeavor, and I'm only guessing, but I suspect that Wilder took a more conservative approach to the 1992 release out of respect for the original, to “adhere as closely as possible to the artist's and producer's intentions.” The 1997 remaster may have been more of an attempt to address some of the issues inherent in the methods and technology of the late 1950s, such as the nature and consequences of live, in-studio recording.

    Back in the day, for example, one of the tricks recording engineers used was to “ride the gain” and adjust it on the fly if something got a little too hot or risky. You can plainly hear this at the 4:30 mark of “Freddie Freeloader” on the '92 remaster. It verges on comical how far and fast the gain is cut back to compensate for the rising blasts from Coltrane's tenor as he begins his solo. You can just about see the engineer freaking out. This event is almost completely missing from the '97 remaster. There's a hint of it, but the overall loudness and balance between the instruments is significantly more consistent, with much less tension. Whether this manipulation is a plus for you may be as much a theological consideration as an historical one. It depends on the source of your devotion. I'm fine with it, I guess, although it's a little startling to expect it and not hear it after all these years.

    I'd wager that a majority of listeners today would probably prefer the 1997 remaster. It's very good and mirrors somewhat the current fashion. My only reservation is that it's sometimes a little too bright compared to the earlier version. Admittedly, the 1992 gold disc is pretty much unobtanium now, but I think its inclusion in this discussion is valid and worthy. It's really good, too, and its existence and value should be acknowledged.

    As a practical matter, once Kind of Blue gets moving the differences between the two treatments fade, and all I'm left with are the reasons I was drawn to it in the first place.



    [Equipments: LG-670 BDP, Denon 1611, NHT Classic Threes, Outlaw LFM-1 EX]
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2014
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  14. Bert Audiophyte

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  15. defmoot Audioholic

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    Can't say for sure because I haven't heard that particular edition.

    This version appears to be the 1997 remaster, however. It's a Sony release and contains the alt take of Flamenco Sketches.

    I highly recommend Cannonball Adderley's Somethin' Else, included in the 2-CD set you linked to. It's awesome. Look for a disc with the tracks in this order: Autumn Leaves/Love For Sale/Somethin' Else/One For Daddy-O/Dancing In The Dark. Some releases include the additional track, Alison's Uncle, last on the disc, but IMO its inclusion ruins an otherwise nearly perfect album. I never play it along side the others. YMMV.

    Enjoy!
  16. jimincfalls Enthusiast

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    Probably the most played CD in my collection. Great to play with the rain hitting the skylight. So What and All Blues are my favorite tracks.
  17. sterling shoote Full Audioholic

    sterling shoote
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    Listening to Miles Davis " on trumpet" is like listening to fingernails dragging on a blackboard.
  18. IanU Enthusiast

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    Crescent/Blue Train

    How about Crescent, John Coltrane's most moody album. I think that is more in line in atmosphere with the Kind of Blue album.
    [​IMG]
    IanU,

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